5 Easy Swaps to Make Any Recipe Healthier

I subscribe to an anti-inflammatory diet also known in some circles as a “clean” diet. What that means really is lots of foods high in nutrients and low in sugar and processing. I buy very few boxed foods, preferring to make our food from whole ingredients. One thing I often do is take a recipe that sounds like it has lots of flavor and convert it to a clean recipe by making a few adjustments. Here are 5 easy swaps you can do to make any recipe healthier.

1. Swap out the dairy
My kids are I are allergic to the protein in dairy so I substitute almond or coconut milk for the milk that is in any recipe. If it calls for butter, I swap it out for Earth Balance or coconut oil. Even if you’re not allergic to milk, drinking milk is debatable as far as its health benefits. Don’t get me started on milk as a source of calcium. There are lots of other foods that are better sources—that was largely a marketing campaign by the dairy industry. Even though I miss the days I could eat a good double cream brie, I must say it’s a little weird that humans are the only animal on the planet to eat another animal baby’s food.

2. Swap out the fat
Seems like most companies have eliminated the toxic trans fats from products which is great but there are still oils called for in recipes that need to be swapped out. Any time a recipe calls for vegetable oil, be sure what you have in your cupboard is not corn or canola oil, both of which are most likely GMO and thus heavily sprayed with the cancer causing herbicide glyphosate. Use healthy fats like sunflower seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil or grapeseed oil instead.

3. Swap out the flour
Many people are allergic to wheat and don’t know it. The way the farmers process wheat these days is very different from how they did it 50 years ago. It is even common to use the afore mentioned toxic herbicide glyphosate on wheat as a desiccant before harvest. Yuck. So if you are sure you can tolerate wheat, definitely convert to organic flour—at least you won’t be getting any glyphosate into your system. Second, experiment with alternative gluten-free flours and see if you feel better. A lot of people do!

4. Swap out the meat
Red meat is highly inflammatory and has been connected to a sharp increased risk of heart disease and cancer. In a clean eating lifestyle, I recommend eating only animals that can swim or fly. Many people choose to go vegan after a cancer diagnosis. There is nothing wrong with that if your body likes it (mine doesn’t) but it does take close monitoring to make sure you’re getting enough protein and the important omega 3 fatty acids for optimal brain health.

Here’s a bonus tip: Reduce the meat in the recipe and increase the vegetables! I just can’t write a blog post about eating healthier without saying to eat more veg! Your body will thank you with extra nourished cells from the loads of vitamins and minerals in the extra vegetables.

5. Swap out the sugar
Refined white sugar is the most inflammatory food you can eat. I look for recipes that don’t call for sugar but if I’m baking the rare dessert or treat, I always reduce the sugar in the recipe because now that I’ve adjusted my palate, other people’s recipes taste way too sweet to me! After reducing the amount by at least a third, I also swap out the sugar with a lower glycemic, higher nutrient dense natural sweetener like coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw honey or black strap molasses.

Try these easy swaps and let me know how you feel in the comments below!


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Jana - June 20, 2017

I never thought about swapping out the sugar. Will give it a try. Thanks!

mary dwan - July 4, 2017

Good article. succinct and informed. I mainly follow the guidelines but did not know about how flour is processed. I had wondered what could be better about organic as compared to conventional flour. Now I know.
I love maple syrup and have liked having a nutritional reason to buy it. I used to save it for ocassional treats because of its expense. Now I use it whenever I want to sweeten something.

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